Saturday, February 20, 2016

Nairobi Restaurant Week 2016 (Part 2)

On Thursday, I featured part 1 of my NRW series. Today, I'll talk more about two of the restaurants I visited, OhCha Noodle Bar and Zen Garden. I predict I'll be starving once I'm done! I'm definitely looking forward to reviewing more restaurants in and around Nairobi. 

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OhCha Noodle Bar

I've actually never been here before, but I've been meaning to go so when my fellow foodie and blogger friend Darshani of https://cupcakestocurry.wordpress.com/ suggested a few options for lunch, I picked this one. I knew that the one at Westgate would be busy, so lazy me decided to go to the one at Village Market. 

OhCha's NRW 2016 menu
For starters, I decided to go for the Vegetable Spring Roll. The spring rolls themselves were good, but I especially liked the sauce they came with! Not quite sure what it was, but it was some sort of sweet and spicy concoction. 

Vegetable Spring Roll (and apologies for the wonky picture; I blame my hunger)
For the main meal, I ordered the Chicken Cashew Nuts. Now, keep in mind that I'm not usually a fan of nuts in food, so I was being a little adventurous here, and it paid off. I loved the chicken! The flavours blended together really well- there was enough savoury and spicy to delight me. The chicken itself had great flavour, which I know sometimes can be a hit or miss for restaurants. I would definitely return for it. Another exciting thing that happened was that I had enough left over to take home- and I may or may not have finished these leftovers as soon as I got home... 

Chicken Cashew Nuts

If you're confused by what the food was served in, don't be! Since we were at a food court, the food came in ready-to-take-away boxes. The design on the boxes was pretty cool, but I'm not going to lie, I had a really hard time closing the box and finally had to ask for help! 

For dessert, there were no options to choose from, so we got the Coconut Panna Cotta that was part of the menu. It was really refreshing, and I see why it was selected as the dessert of choice! It wasn't too sweet, so we were able to finish the whole thing. 

Coconut Panna Cotta
Overall, I enjoyed my OhCha experience and I do plan to return, especially so to actually try their noodle bar. I can't say much for the ambiance since we were in a food court, but the service was pretty good. One of my favourite things about this meal, apart from the chicken, was how well the different courses blended together. 

Bonus: I really liked the bags they gave us to put our take away in! 



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(Bamboo at) Zen Garden 

Now, since Zen Garden is one of my favourites (two of my favourites?), there was no way I could skip doing this during NRW! I love having friends who love food too, and two of them accompanied me for dinner. Zen Garden's Pan-Asian side, Bamboo, did the NRW 2016 menu, but the continental side, Jade, did not. 

Pic courtesy of Zen Garden 
For starters, I went with the first starter platter, which consisted of Crispy Pork & Ginger Spring Rolls, the Spicy California Maki Roll, and the Five Spice Snapper Dumpling, and my friends went for the vegetarian platter. Surprisingly, when I read the menu, the dumplings sounded then least appealing, but they turned out to be my favourite appetiser on the plate! The sauces were great too, and I ended up hanging onto them to add to my main meal. I loved the combination of the starters, especially so the spring rolls and the dumplings. 

Zen Starter Platter (Vegetarian)

Zen Starter Platter
For the main meal, I ordered the Sesame & Spring Onion Chicken, and my friends got the Zen Manchurian and the Tofu in Black Bean & Spicy Soy (both vegetarian). Can I just say that my chicken was AMAZING?! Again, here's something I really hope they add to their regular menu! The flavours of sesame and spring onion blended together seamlessly, and I just loved the whole thing (and finished it too)! My friends enjoyed their meals as well, and after having tried a bite of the tofu, I agreed. If I was to order vegetarian, I would've gotten that. 

Sesame & Spring Onion Chicken
Zen Manchurian
Tofu in Black Bean & Spicy Soy

For their dessert we all got the Freshly Baked Mango Tart with a Salted Caramel Macaroon & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. To be absolutely honest, out of all the desserts I've had at Zen Garden, this one was my least favourite (their passion fruit cheesecake, however? I live to eat it). Maybe this is because it was hard to live up to such an amazing second course! However, I absolutely LOVED their presentation. 

Freshly Baked Mango Tart with a Salted Caramel Macaroon & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

The service here was amazing, as usual; it's like the waiter knew right when to come over, and that's always a good thing. The ambiance at this restaurant is one of my favourites in Nairobi, I doubt there's anyone around who doesn't know that! 

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The Verdict on NRW 2016

There are some who felt that the prices were a little steep, and a regular meal at these restaurants may have been cheaper, but I loved the opportunity to try dishes that weren't on their regular menus! I do wish that the price included at least one drink though, it may have been a more attractive offering to many. 

Favourite starter: Zen Garden followed VERY closely by OhCha

Favourite main meal: Zen Garden

Favourite dessert: About Thyme, definitely! I could live on this....

Favourite combination: OhCha

Favourite presentation: Zen Garden for starters and dessert, About Thyme for main meal, OhCha for takeaway

Did you all get to try out any restaurants for NRW 2016? I'd love to hear about them! 

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